The Southern Bookseller Review 6/27/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of June 27, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of June 27, 2023

Books to look forward to in July.

Read This Next!

Next week SBR will publish the titles of the books chosen by Southern indie booksellers for the July Read This Next! list. If you are looking for a great book for your next summer read, trust an indie bookseller to put it into your hands.

Coming in July:

The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel

“This was not a man who needed to don all black and plan elaborate, barely made it heists. No, all Brietweiser needed was his pocketknife and girlfriend (with the occasional nail clipper).” –Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC

Ripe: A Novel by Sarah Rose Etter

A miserable, beautifully written swan song to the happy life- to freedom, to creativity. Our heroine descends into black hole darkness while trying to navigate her increasingly insane amount of responsibilities at her Silicone Valley startup. Be careful. –Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

Do Tell: A Novel by Lindsay Lynch

“I absolutely loved this book! Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, The glittering glamour of late ’30s Hollywood is completely immersive, every character is fully formed and complex, and the writing is truly excellent.” –Chelsea Bauer from union ave books in Knoxville, TN

Forget Me Not by Julie Soto

“I adored this book! Ama and Elliott have my whole heart. I loved Ama’s tenacity and dedication to her career as a wedding planner; she is one of my favorite romance characters I’ve met this year. his will be one of the big romances of the summer!” –Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

When Rubin Plays by Gracey Zhang

“Beautiful music is in the ear of the beholder and in this stunning picture book from the author/illustrator of LaLa’s words, that ear is a chorus of cats!” — Angie Tally from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC

Read This Now | Read This Next | Book Buzz| The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca


Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca
CLASH Books / June 2023

Adult FictionPsychologicalThrillers
More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Eric Larocca’s newest novel Everything the Darkness Eats weaves cosmic horror with small town prejudice into a tale of creeping dread. Larocca never shies away from the gruesome or the traumatic and weaves these darkest parts alongside love. This Connecticut town is neither cozy nor warm, and is instead full of mysterious and bizarre disappearances, unrestrained bigotry and the dark effects of its most powerful resident Mr. Crowley. Interweaving two resident’s attempts to uncover and stop the horror, Larocca forces his characters to reckon with what means the most to them and to what lengths they’ll go for closure, revenge, and love. Perfect for fans of Clive Barker and other cosmic horror.

Reviewed by Mikey LaFave, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Open Throat by Henry Hoke

Henry Hoke, photo credit Myles Pettengill

I call my cat Hecate, as sort of a – it’s formed a separate identity for me, you know, from the actual lion. But Hecate feels this community in this space, these people who are living adjacent to each other in tents and, you know, sharing food, taking care of each other. Calling it town is like this is the first encounter of, like, people in place and people forming a small civilization on the cat’s terms. It’s outside of the horror of a freeway that it’s crossed and the violent past it’s had with its own kind when its father sort of, you know, rejects it and hunts it. ― Henry Hoke, Interview, NPR

What booksellers are saying about Open Throat

Open Throat by Henry Hoke
  • I do not need much convincing to read a book whose narrator is a queer mountain lion, and neither should you. This firecracker of a novel is a tale of a big cat living under the Hollywood sign; where witnessing gay hookups, therapist debriefings, and vent sessions about the social scene of “ellay” are normal occurrences. When a fire breaks out in the hills he calls his home, the mountain lion is forced to move closer to civilization. Our unconventional protagonist successfully and skillfully delves into themes of gender, familial issues, and loneliness in this flawless, fever-dream novella.
      ― Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • As a bookseller, it’s pretty rare to say “I’ve never read anything like this before”, but in the case of Open Throat, it’s 100% true. I absolutely inhaled this beautiful, darkly funny, propulsive prowler of a book. Told from the POV of a mountain lion in pseudo-verse and using language acquired from the hikers under the thicket where it lives, near the Hollywood sign, this story made me think hard about how we treat the animals – wild and domestic- in and around our cities. Love love love!.
      ― Rachel Knox from Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, FL | Buy from Tombolo Books

  • Savage and gentle, the protagonist of OPEN THROAT sees the best of us—but mostly the worst. At only 156 pages, this short but powerful novel packs in a captivating meditation on queerness, climate disaster, and looks at just how little humans tend to care for their fellow man. I loved the nameless, ambiguously gendered, lonely mountain lion whose world we looked through. One of the most thoughtful and unique books I’ve had the pleasure of reading.   
      ― Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

About Henry Hoke

Henry Hoke is an editor at The Offing and a writer whose work has appeared in No Tokens, Triangle House Review, Electric Literature, and the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes. He co-created the performance series Enter>text in Los Angeles, and has taught at CalArts and the UVA Young Writers Workshop. He lives in New York City.

The Apartment by Ana Menéndez


The Apartment by Ana Menéndez
 Counterpoint / June 2023

More Reviews from Novel

I feel now as if I live in apartment 2B. Having lived in it through the decades that Menendez’ book covers, I feel that its bumpy floors and cast iron pan are a part of me now, too. The writing here was lovely and the pace meditative. Menendez fleshed out each life that touched this apartment so effectively that I felt I had visited them when a new chapter begun. The characters were vivid and real, and the place work was so strong that Miami Beach was a character in itself. Highly recommend this one.

Reviewed by Becca Sloan, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge by Helen Ellis


Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge by Helen Ellis
Doubleday / June 2023

Adult NonfictionEssaysFamily & RelationshipsHumorMarriage & FamilyMarriage & Long-Term Relationships
More Reviews from E. Shaver, Bookseller

Read This Next!

A June 2023 Read This Next! Title

Helen Ellis is back with a collection of essays about my marriage…sorry about her marriage. These hit so close to home on so many levels: snoring…yep my husband does that and I have threatened his life, grudges…yeah I will cut people out of my life for being slightly rude to my husband or my friends, ridiculous letter to the person caring for my pets…check. Hilarious and touching, this is a great portrait of a marriage.

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Wolfsong by TJ Klune


Wolfsong by TJ Klune
Tor Books / July 2023

More Reviews from Story on the Square

This is my first foray into TJ Klune (I know, I know, I’m behind the times) and I have to say, I loved Wolfsong! I had only read YA gay love stories and it was such an interesting change up reading a book written for gay men opposed to women attempting to write gay men. I loved Ox and how he developed his pack. I also loved that he was just a “What you see is what you get” kind of guy. Not everyone in the world is a deep thinker or an overthinker. And we need a balance. The only thing I didn’t care for was Ox being attracted to Joe when he was still a few months underage. I know that there wasn’t a power imbalance in their relationship, but I’ve seen a lot of hate groups accusing LGBT people of intentionally targeting young people, so I would be afraid for someone who has not read the story in its entirety to judge wrongly from that fact alone.

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Cape by Kevin Johnson


Cape by Kevin Johnson
Roaring Brook Press / June 2023

BereavementChildrenDeathEmotions & FeelingsFamilyGriefJuvenile FictionSocial Themes
More Reviews from Bookmarks

Read This Next!

A June 2023 Read This Next! Title

A touching story about grief. Losing someone is never easy and often we never know what to do with those feelings. Cape shows us the beauty of remembering someone we’ve lost and how through remembrances we can find some peace..

Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game (Graphic Novel Memoir) by Colin Kaepernick


Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game (Graphic Novel Memoir) by Colin Kaepernick
Graphix / May 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Change the Game follows a young Colin Kaepernick as he navigates late high school, and his lack of offers to play college football. He confronts the societal obstacles in his way head on and continues to fight for and believe in himself. Great for young athletes who are looking for an inspiring story of overcoming challenges, both in the outside world and in their own heads.

Reviewed by Alex Einhorn, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Decide for Yourself

Books that appear on PEN America’s list of challenged books.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
 Henry Holt and Co. / March 2018

More Reviews from M. Judson

Oh man, I loved everything about this book. I loved that West Africa makes a long overdue appearance in the predominately white realm of YA Fantasy. I loved the characters as well. Young and powerful (though they may not yet know it) teenagers who are charged with the task of bringing magic back into their world and thus saving their people from genocide at the hands of a terrible tyrant. Most of all, I loved the writing. Adeyemi will have you in the palm of her hand gripped by the fast pace and reading long past bedtime. She will have you absolutely dying to read book 2!

Reviewed by Gretchen Fitzgerald, M. Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Five-Star Weekend 1964: Eyes of the Storm Love, Theoretically
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet When Things Aren't Going Right, Go Left

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Words arranged in the right order produce an afterglow.”
— Valeria Luiselli

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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